Drones to help coastal police find children, rescue people

Summary

Starting tomorrow, the Westkust police zone will use drones to find lost children, to locate trans migrants and to rescue people at sea

€80,000 price tag

The Westkust police zone have purchased several drones, which they will use to monitor and guard the coastline along the municipalities of Koksijde, De Panne and Nieuwpoort.

Westkust police zone chief Nicholas Paelinck told De Morgen that the unmanned aerial vehicles together cost €80,000. “€80,000 is a lot of money but we have high expectations for these devices,” he said, adding that the drones would hopefully allow the police to more easily locate transit migrants.

“These people often hide in the dunes. That makes for an extremely difficult search operation from the ground. From now on, the drones will be able to point us to their hideouts.”

Paelinck said the drones would also be used to find lost children on crowded beaches as well as to locate missing seniors and to perform sea rescues. “But drones are also very useful during traffic checks,” Paelinck added, pointing out that the drones are equipped with cameras with a 30x zoom lens that makes it easy to identify a car’s number plates. “From the air, you can perfectly see who you’re pulling over and who’s trying to get away,” he said.

The drones will be used by four Westkust police officers who’ve completed an extensive theoretical and practical drone training. Police officers on the ground will also be able to watch the images shot by the drones on their computers, tablets and smartphones in real time.

The Westkust police will use the drone for the first time during the Night of the Proms Summer Edition event taking place in Koksijde August 1.

Photo: Belga / Nicolas Maeterlinck

Flemish coast

The Flemish coast is a 67-kilometre sandy stretch on the North Sea. With its wide beaches, quiet dunes and polders, it’s Flanders’ most-visited tourist attraction.
Day-trippers - A two-hour drive at worst from most Flemish cities, the coast especially draws day tourists during the summer.
Kusttram - Connecting Knokke all the way to De Panne, the “Coast Tram” is the staple means of transportation along the coast. It’s the longest tramline in the world.
Theater Aan Zee - Every summer, a 10-day music and theatre festival is organised in and around Ostend.
10

coast municipalities

67

kilometres long

3

million visitors annually